Monthly Archives: November 2012

Freedom to Choose, this months news on the Smokers World

Freedom2choose Newsletter


November newsletter

Posted: 25 Nov 2012 03:00 PM PST

In this month’s issue:

  • From the Chairman: The WHO harms the world’s poor.
  • Plain Packaging Plot Thickens
  • The Famous F2C Christmas Competition – £30 prize!
  • F2C Articles and official Blog
  • The Last Word

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

Smokers seem to be unique in incurring the wrath of all government. Whether it is local councils bullying pubs because their smoking area is 1mm too long, national governments passing more and more laws, or the EU passing Big Pharma inspired directives. Of course most oppression originates from the unelected World Health Organization. They have just finished the Conference of the Parties 5 (COP5) in Seoul, South Korea, from November 12th-17th.

Among the pearls of wisdom was to stamp out the trade in illegal tobacco, and then call for higher taxes on tobacco. It also wants to stop farmers from cultivating tobacco. African farmers are particularly reliant on tobacco as a cash crop, in fact 30 million Africans are dependent. If these directives are successfully implemented there is no doubt that people  from some of the world’s poorest areas will die.

But then tobacco control has never been about health.

Dave Atherton, November 2012.

 


PLAIN PACKAGING PLOT THICKENS

The Plain Packaging consultation rumbles on more than three months after its closing date with both sides accusing the other of forging signatures to boost support.  E-mails released by the Dept of Health in answer to Freedom of Information requests include that of a zealous Research Fellow with the Dept of Tobacco Control Studies who suggests that fellow anti-tobacco activists might like to sign up to several petitions to ‘get your money’s worth!’.

Meanwhile, correspondence between Forest’s Simon Clark and the DoH describes the extent to which multiple sign-ups occurred in the Hands Off Our Packs (HOOPS) Campaign.

For the overall picture, read Angela Harbutt, the HOOPS Campaign manager, for an excellent summary of events.

Dick Puddlecote details the unfolding story, with added tweets.

From the horse’s mouth – Simon Clark’s story.

The list of released documents is here.

Although currently overshadowed by the major topic of forging signatures, Dept of Health correspondence throws up a few little surprises. Jay of Nannying Tyrants has been walking us through the extent of cross-promotion between the major pro-PP players and finds evidence of that slippery slope in action.

Of special interest is ex Health Minister Anne Milton’s letter to Stephen Williams of the All Parliamentary Party Group on Smoking and Health, dated Dec. 2011: “ We would like to see smoking in home and cars where children are present eradicated. The key question is what is the most appropriate and workable way of achieving this.

Please note:  a large number of documents have been released into the public domain. Jay is currently wading through them, but would appreciate a few hours from anyone who may be able to help. Contact him here.

 

 

Mentioning the ex Health Minister Anne Milton gives us a chance to publish this photograph again.

Lest we forget...


THE FAMOUS F2C CHRISTMAS COMPETITION

Every year F2C runs a lighthearted Christmas Competition for the members of the F2C Forum.

This year there is a prize of a £15 Tesco Voucher, and a further mystery prize to the same value, making a total value of £30 to the winner.

The competition is run every year by our enigmatic F2C member known only as ‘B7’. He writes:

The gift card should be enough for a turkey and a few bags of spuds and a tin of evaporated milk, but you will have to await the joys of the mystery prize.

So, what ‘s this year’s challenge from B7?

THE CHALLENGE

B7 says: “We have all heard the recent slogans and relabelling of the months of the year by those nasty fake charity types. Good examples of this are the antis’ Stoptober nonsense, and now the Dry January promotion.”

“Your challenge is to enter alternative slogans for one or all of the months of the year. All you have to do is post up a caption / label on the F2C Forum. Everyone can enter including paid-up members and ordinary Forum members: this is just a fun competition. Each entry is based on a month of the year January to December,but other original entries will be accepted.We already have ‘Octabber’, and a few early entries from forum members include ‘Dissember’ (refuting the junk science) and ‘Joynuary’ (celebrating the joy of drinking)”.

B7’s own suggestion is: ‘Septyranny‘ (for those subject to anti-smoking or other oppression in September). Lol…

He continues:

The maximum number of entries is 12 entries/posts per individual. One individual post on the Forum can contain as many bits of information as you wish but will still only count as one entry. You are free to provide combined Graphic entries: these also count as one entry. Keep all entries clean and fun in the true tradition of F2C. Who knows: your caption / labels etc may be adopted in the media and become synonymous with your thoughts!

CLOSING DATE

Closing date for the competition is at midnight (24.00 UK time) on Friday 7th December 2012. Each entrant will be given a number starting at one, all in the order of posting answers on the Forum. The prize winner will be drawn using the random number generator at http://www.random.org/integers/ , and the result posted up in the Forum on Monday 10th December 2012.

HOW TO ENTER

If you are already a F2C Forum member, simply log in and go to the post here to make your replies. If not, register for free on the Forum here (you can choose a username to remain as enigmatic as B7).

GOOD LUCK! We’ll publish the best entries and the username of the winner in December’s Newsletter.

 

F2C ARTICLES and OFFICIAL BLOG

Welcome to the new-look Freedom 2 Choose Website. We updated the website to match the blog.

Brandy for the Parson, Baccy for the Clerk.

The WHO Harms African Babies

A Taxing Problem

 

Brandy for the Parson, Baccy for the Clerk

THE LAST WORD

“In essence, HSE cannot produce epidemiological evidence to link levels of exposure to SHS to the raised risk of contracting specific diseases and it is therefore difficult to prove Health-related breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.”

– Health & Safety Executive (UK) Operational Circular 255/15 Para 9

 

Freedom2choose:  c/o John H Baker 22 Glastonbury House, Priestfields, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS3 0LF Tel/Fax 0845 643 9469

Freedom2choose (Scotland): c/o Michael Davidson, 15, Linksview House, Leith, EH6 6DP Tel 0845 643 9552

BII to reinvent the Wheel

BII Hopes and Aspirations

Interesting times, it would appear that after all the troubles that have beset the BII, they are about to reinvent the wheel, sadly the wheel has been well buckled over the years and may be well past reinventing.

The learned CEO Peter Thomas is supposedly disposing of all the MDC’s, Membership Development Consultants, mainly because they are not producing the new members, which would be absolutely right, sadly selling cheap rate membership deals to all supportive Pub Co’s direct, leaves no leeway for the MDC’s to bring in quality members  with a personal contact in the BII to turn to in times of stress or advice.

Selling cheap memberships to all and sundry with no checks as to professionalism and their actual needs, does not get quality long term members.

It’s a bit like a Pay and Play Golf Course, the majority of golfers start playing golf there, they quickly realise the limitations and then join a quality Golf Club, I’m not saying the BII is not quality, but the options are the same for a student as for an FBII, the only difference is the cost. They have over the years tried to give added benefits to senior members, but they had very little appeal to the majority.

I digress, the exalted Mr. Thomas is going to go for professionalism, qualifications etc., to justify the Post Nominals e.g. ABII, MBII and ex CBII as in my case.

A very worthy target, except it will be dead in the water before it gets off the ground.

Having been personally responsible for introducing several thousands of new good members to the BII over the years, I am well aware of the disregard that many ex and existing members have for the Post Nominals, that they have been continually devalued, at every dash for cash in the BII, in addition the Pub Co’s that the BII are setting up these cheap membership deals with and support the Pub Co Model in its present form are wholly responsible for the lack of value of qualifications in the industry.

Having been involved in BII membership recruitment from its onset, it was patently obvious that Post Noms had no real value in terms of business enhancement, except to flatter a members ego as and when required.

These may seem harsh words, but they are true.

Firstly when tenancies were the norm, an earned for  BII Post Nom would have been, possibly acceptable as a progression to a promotion pub, this would have given serious professional value to being an MBII or FBII.

This opportunity was seriously missed by the BII senior management at the time on the assumption that everyone wished to climb the BII Post Nom’s ladder, what they failed to do was convince every brewer with pubs that external categorising of professionalism was the way forward.

Many of the large Brewers like Whitbread, had their own training programmes which they considered superior to the advanced BII qualifications, the managed house and tenanted divisions paid basic lip service to BII Post Noms, consequently the industry was divided as to the value of Post Nom’s and whether the long term benefits would be truly beneficial.

Secondly the NLC came into being and the BII had a monopoly and further complacency set in, thinking that everyone that did the NLC, now the NCPLH, would automatically become members, which they did not.

In stead the NLC became the only qualification that you need to run a complex licensed business, people mistakenly assumed that, that was all that was needed to run any licensed business, any other qualifications were a waste of time and money, as anyone who knows about running a pub, time is something that you have very little of, taking exams after three or four months of finding your feet comes very low on the agenda.

Do you go to a solicitor or doctor who has passed the initial exam, you do not, but you do go into a pub where the landlord has passed a one day course on licensing law and accept it, of course you do if it’s a nice pub and the owner is a popular guy.

The third nail in the coffin against measured professionalism are the current Pub Co’s and the Pub Co Model Leases, they do not encourage professionalism, if they offered you a better more profitable lease, with the minimum amount of inconvenience changing leases, for being an MBII or FBII and decent discounts, the industry would move forward.

This will not happen, the fact that good operators are being bankrupted and thrown out of their pubs, rather than promoted is destroying the industry, professionalism has to be recognised and rewarded by the Pub Co’s, until this happens recognised professionalism in the industry will die on its feet.

To be fair I do know of some smaller Pub Co’s who do recognise professionalism and reward the achievements accordingly, sadly they are very much in the minority and disillusioned at the BII’s close association with the companies that have been slated in all the recent BISC’s Inquiries.

The Industry desperately needs recognition of ability, but the BII have Supped with the Devil for far too long, they have accepted the Pub Co Shilling and cannot step back.

Leased and tenanted licensees are no longer earning serious money, a few are, most are struggling because of the avaricious greed by struggling under capitalised Pub Companies, discounts are barely negligible, rents are way too high, consequently the rates are equally outrageous in the majority of cases since the Inland Revenue Valuation Service use comaparables to assess rates.

The BII’s attempts to arbiter or create a service for arbitration are regarded with serious doubt, they should be free with unbiased decision makers, they should be open to view to all and binding which they cannot be without legislation.

Their forms of arbitration should not be subject to high-class professionals involvement, where he with the most money wins more times than most, the majority of licensees are struggling and the profession is failing, the BII needs to distance itself from the Pub Co dependency and be seen as totally fair, unbiased and incorruptible.

A professionals body should protect its members interests without fear or favour, sadly in the cold light of day, certain National Bodies have failed to act because the senior members have been too entrenched in high places and actions that suit their well stocked purses and have blocked or stalled maintaining professional integrity and standards.

I am not saying they are corrupt but financially beneficial, this raise a serious question that there should be compulsory legislation for all professional bodies standards, if younger members could rely on total honesty without fear or favour a number of industries would be trusted Bodies again.

If the BII could turn the clock back and become a serious professional body without fear or favour, I would be the first to rejoin, having spent many years trying to bring decent members in, devoted far too many unpaid hours supporting stressed members, promoting the BII, serving on a number of Regional Councils, to see it all flushed down the Pub Co toilet by successive CEO’s, the majority had little idea about the grass roots members worsening problems.

But as it stands at present I remain Nigel Wakefield ex CBII.

 

 

 

Punch Taverns value crashes 99% in five years

 

Pub giant’s value slashed by 99 per cent in five years

The Pub Co model that has caused distress to far too many honest naive people,  now must rank among, Pyramid and Ponzii Schemes and the other short term get rich quick schemes that rear their ugly heads with monotonous regularity, sadly the initiators of these schemes invariably walk away and escape their responsibilities, Punch look in danger of getting their come uppence, how many more that have followed this failed doctrine will follow suit.

From the Burtonmail.

A BURTON pub giant has seen an astonishing 99 per cent wiped off its value in the last five years.

Punch Taverns, based on Centrum 100, posted the single biggest loss of 13 firms who have the misfortune of being part of a group dubbed the ‘90 per cent’ club.

It is an exclusive society UK companies are not in a hurry to join as it consists of those who are still part of the FTSE All Share Index but have lost more than 90 per cent of their value over the last five years.

Former FTSE-100 company Punch, which employs around 450 people at its Jubilee House base, once saw investors shelling out £9.89 a share, a five year high, before losing a whopping 99 per cent in value and dropping to a meagre 6.42 per share.

Oren Laurent, chief executive of trading firm Banc De Binary, said: “The pub industry in the UK has been devastated by the recession — it was reported earlier in the year that 12 pubs close every week in the UK.

“However, Punch Taverns has been hit the hardest as, in my opinion, they made the mistake of loading themselves with billions of debt just as their core markets started to shrink. They are now struggling to refinance this debt, I believe, meaning that a recovery looks unlikely in the shorter term.”

Other members of the 90 per cent club include current and former FTSE-100 companies RBS and Thomas Cook.

Punch competitor Enterprise Inns has also seen 88 per cent knocked off its share price since 2007.

This comes just days after the firm denied claims that it was set to default on its £2 billion debt while announcing that profits had fallen from £76 million to £64 million in the year to August 18 — a drop of £12.3 million.

The Centrum 100 based firm is in talks to restructure its £2.1 billion debt after putting its poor results down to the demerger from Spirit Pub Company last year and the wet summer.

Punch Taverns chief executive Roger Whiteside revealed that there would be a ‘slight’ reduction in headcount as part of its long term plans to stabilise the business.

It is currently trying to get its core estate of leased pubs down to 3,000 with plans to sell 1,600 over the next few years.

Punch did not want to comment on being part of the ‘90 per cent’ club when asked by the Mail.

Can Germany afford eurozone collapse?

The Eurozone from an Article written by Robert Peston

Business editor BBC

Can Germany afford eurozone collapse?

As negotiations on changing the terms of the Greek rescue limp on, there remains a widespread presumption that Germany – the eurozone’s paymaster – would always have too much to lose from the collapse of the currency union to allow it to collapse.

Analysis of trade patterns sent to me by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs suggests that may be a slightly naive assumption. What his numbers show is that British exporters would probably be more damaged by a eurozone implosion than German ones: or to put it another way, businesses in the UK – which, to state the stunningly obvious, is not a member of the euro area – are more dependent on the health of the eurozone than German companies.

And – which is the more important trend – German businesses are becoming less and less reliant on selling to eurozone countries and are becoming more and more successful in selling to China and the leading emerging markets.

Here are the relevant stats. In 2000, roughly at the dawn of the eurozone, trade with the euro area represented 45.5% of all Germany’s trade. That fell to 38.1% this year – and, according to Goldman’s projections, will be under 34% in 2020.

By contrast trade with Mr O’Neill’s BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) was 3.9% of German trade in 2000, is just under 12% this year and is forecast to be more than 24% in 2020.

What is particularly striking is that in eight years German trade with China alone is projected to be 15.6% of the total, according to the trends, or not far off double the share represented by Germany’s most important eurozone trading partner, France.

This leads Mr O’Neill to the following conclusion:

“If European policymakers cannot get their act together in the year ahead or the year after the German election [in 2013], I think the probability that it [the eurozone] survives might be less than I had previously thought.”

Or to put it another way, by 2015 it will be so obvious to the German people that it is business with China that is making them richer that their incentive to show fiscal solidarity with Spain and Italy – to use German wealth to underpin the recovery of weaker eurozone economies – will be even less than it is today (for what it’s worth, Goldman believes Germany’s trade with Spain will be less than a tenth of its trade with China by 2020).

And what does all this betoken for the UK?

Well it rather implies that British businesses’ efforts to reduce their dependence on European markets and increase their sales to emerging economies need to be significantly stepped up.

Right now, some 44.5% of British trade is with the euro area: our dependence on the prosperity of the eurozone is significantly greater than Germany’s (which is why I have been banging on for years that although we may be powerless to do much to prevent the eurozone lurching from crisis to crisis, we have a great deal to lose if the lands across the Channel go splat, in an economic sense).

The better news is that our trade with China has been growing: we generated current account credits of £2.7bn in 2002, but that had risen to £13.8bn in 2011, a rise of 411%.

The rise in our sales to China were faster than our sales rise to any other major trading partner. But even so the increase was probably not fast enough.

Trade with China represents 3.5% of the British trade total, or a quarter of the business we do with the US and a third of the business we do with Germany.

Our trade with each of the Netherlands, France, the Irish Republic and Belgium is significantly greater than our trade with China.

British businesses are very dependent on selling to rich but relatively low-growth economies. They are particularly dependent on selling to economies – that like the UK itself – became far too indebted during the boom years (and to labour the point, I am talking here about the aggregate of household, corporate, banking and government debt, not government debt alone).

So it should be no surprise that the UK is struggling to grow at more than a desperately anaemic rate: the scale of the required re-engineering for the British economy will be the work of many years.

Not only does the UK need to become less reliant on debt-fuelled consumer spending, and become more of an investment-led and exporting economy, but it also needs to re-orient its trade away from economies as hobbled as Britain itself.